Page 9, 2nd March 2001

2nd March 2001
Page 9
Page 9, 2nd March 2001 — Pacifism and the Church

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Pacifism and the Church

From Mr Richard Lewis Sir, With reference to Fr Barrett's column of 23rd February, I was the reader who submitted the original question, though it, in fact, queried the Church's stance rather than your paper's on non-violence, and particularly on the Quakers, who in this respect, seem admirable. However, I would welcome the opportunity to respond to the answer he did give. He writes, "Christ our divine leader and guide did not reduce his Gospel to pacifism." Really? In the same issue of your paper, Fr Rolheiser bases his column upon the following teachings of Jesus, "Love your enemies; do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you; pray for those who mistreat you", and he ends his column by saying, "To love one's enemy is the acid test of who's a Christian and who isn't. Everything else is an old tape, simply replaying itself over and over."

Surely this is the basis for a gospel of pacifism, but lest some bright spark might argue that you can love your enemy at the same time as banging him over the head for his own (and everyone else's) good, may I add the following (and to me most significant) teaching of Jesus from Matthew 5:41, "And if one of the occupation troops forces you to carry his pack one kilometre, carry it two kilometres." The Jews at the time were subjected to every bit as vicious an occupation as the one Saddam Hussein tried to inflict on Kuwait (To take up one of Fr Barrett's points), but yet this was Jesus' response. He had come to preach the kingdom of heaven. "Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven." Do we not today too often seek first the kingdom of earth? Only when each and everyone of us learns first to have peace within, will there be peace without.

Yours faithfully, RICHARD LEWIS Windsor, Berks.

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